Audience Targeting in SharePoint Online

Recently, I got a requirement for a client to display a set of documents to a particular group. For this, SharePoint provides a feature called audience targeting.

In this tutorial, I will explain what audience targeting is in SharePoint. How to implement audience targeting in SharePoint Online.

Also, we will see:

  • How to create a group for audience targeting in SharePoint?
  • How to enable audience targeting in SharePoint Online?
  • Implement audience targeting for a SharePoint list view
  • How to implement audience targeting for SharePoint list items

What is Audience Targeting in SharePoint?

Audience targeting is one of the interesting features of SharePoint Online. It helps users when they want to hide content from everyone and make it visible only to a particular group of people. With this feature, people can personalize the information and keep it safe.

In SharePoint Online, we can target particular content like Navigation links, Pages, Document libraries, lists, News web parts, Event web parts, and Quick links only for a Particular Audience.

Create a Group for an Audience Targeting SharePoint

In SharePoint, audience targeting only supports Microsoft 365 Groups and Security groups. audience targeting won’t support SharePoint groups. You cannot add an individual user to the audience targeting field. So, creating groups is necessary for implementing audience targeting in SharePoint.

So, let us first create a Microsoft 365 group using different ways:

1. Create a Microsoft 365 group from the Admin Center

Groups in Microsoft 365 will allow you to choose a set of people with whom you want to collaborate. It also includes a shared mailbox and calendar, a SharePoint site with a OneNote.

Now follow the below steps for creating a Microsoft 365 group in the Admin Center.

1. Navigate to Microsoft 365 admin center -> Click on Teams & groups ->Click on Active teams & groups.Under Teams & Microsoft 365 groups ->Click on +Add a Microsoft 365 group

how to create a group for audience targeting SharePoint

2. You can provide the proper group name and description on the “Set up the basics” page.

create a group for audience targeting in SharePoint

3. On the Assign Owners page, Click on +Assign owners. On the right side, you will see one page to select owners of this group.

There, you can select up to 20 people. You can add more later from Active teams & groups. After selection, Click on Add(). Then Next.

audience targeting in SharePoint Online using groups

4. In the Add members page, Click on +Add members. On the right side, again you will see one page to select members of this group.

Here also, you can select up to 20 people, and then you can add more later from Active teams & groups; after selecting members, Click on Add().

audience targeting in SharePoint using groups

5. Include the Group email address and Privacy details on the Edit settings page. In Privacy, choose between Public and Private.

If Private is selected, the Role assignment option will be enabled. proceed to Add Microsoft Teams to your group only if all owners have a license that includes Teams. Then, click on Next.

Audience targeting using groups from SharePoint

6. In Review and finish adding group page you can review all the details. You can change it by Clicking on the Edit. Later, Click on Create Group.

audience targeting using groups in SharePoint Online

Now, the group is created. Click on Close.

SharePoint Online audience targeting using groups

Let’s see where the created group is presented now; I will show it in the image below.

audience targeting SharePoint groups

I hope you might get an idea of creating groups in the Microsoft 365 admin center. Once the group is created, you can add this to audience targeting.

We can also create a group from the Outlook app.

2. Create a Group in Outlook

1. Open your Outlook -> Click on the Group icon -> Click on Create Group located at the top right -> New Group page will open. Provide the group name and email address. Then Click on Create.

creating SharePoint group in outlook 365

2. Add members to the group and Click the Add button.

creating SharePoint group from outlook 365

3. On the Outlook home page, you will see the created group now

how to create email group in office 365

In this way, we can create groups in Outlook. Once the Outlook group is created, you can use it for audience targeting.

Create security groups in SharePoint Online for audience targeting

We can also use Security groups for audience targeting in SharePoint Online. For creating security groups in Azure Active Directory, follow the below steps.

1. Navigate to your Microsoft Entra admin center -> Click on the Groups icon -> Click on All groups -> Click on New group.

SharePoint Online audience targeting security group

2. Provide details like Group type, Group name, Group description, Membership type, etc.

You can select the owner of the group and the group member by clicking on the No owners selected, No members selected, and Click on Create.

audience targeting security group in SharePoint

The newly created group will be in All groups under the Groups icon, like in the image below.

audience targeting security group in SharePoint Online

Now the Security group is created for audience targeting in SharePoint. You can use this group while doing audience targeting.

How to Enable Audience Targeting in SharePoint Online

We can enable audience targeting in SharePoint lists, libraries, Pages, News web part, Quick link web part, Event web part, and Navigation links.

Now, let us implement one by one.

Audience targeting in SharePoint document library or List

Now, I’m using this audience-targeting feature for my document library; follow the steps below. I’m clearly explaining everything in detail. By default, audience targeting is disabled in a SharePoint list or document library, So first, we need to enable it.

1. Open the SharePoint Library -> Click on the Gear icon -> Select Library settings.

2. On the Library settings page -> Click on More Library settings -> Under General Settings Click on Audience targeting settings-> enable the Enable audience targeting feature. Click on Ok

Enabling the Audience targeting on list in SharePoint

3. You will get one column named Audience in your library view. In this column, the selected audience groups will be present.

SharePoint Audience Targeting on list items

NOTE:

Audience targeting works proper if we stop sharing through Manage access. Otherwise, if you target something to a specific audience, other people who have permissions they can see it. So stop sharing the access.

4. Now select the file and click there. You have options and click on Manage access.

SharePoint audience targeting library

It will show one page where you might see Stop Sharing. Click on it again.

SharePoint audience targeting list items

5. Now select the file, right-click, and there you have options. Click on Details

audience targeting in SharePoint list

Now, one new section will come, and you can select the right audience. Look at the screenshot below.

enable audience targeting SharePoint

6. After selecting the audience save it, now you can see the selected audience in the Audience column.

audience targeting SharePoint list

7. Now see the below output screenshot, it clearly shows that the selected file is not visible for the people who are not part of the Group [finance team Members].

audience targeting on SharePoint Document Library

In this way, we can enable the audience targeting for a SharePoint library in SharePoint Online. You can follow the exact same steps to implement audience targeting in a SharePoint list.

SharePoint audience targeting for list items

I have a SharePoint list called “Marketing Upcoming Events.”I want to make the item “Award events” personalized to a specific audience within this list. So this can be possible with the help of audience targeting in SharePoint.

audience targeting of list items in SharePoint

NOTE: steps for audience targeting of list items in SharePoint are the same as audience targeting for a list or library in SharePoint.

1. Follow the below steps if you have doubts about this topic.

  • Navigate to your list. select the item to target and do right click
  • Select Manage Access-> Click on Stop Sharing.
  • Again, do right. Click on the item -> select details.
  • Select the audience under the Audience tab.
  • Now, you might see the selected audience in the Audience Column.

2. See the resulting image below. Now, you can see how audience targeting works for list items in SharePoint.

audience targeting for list items in SharePoint Online

Now I’m checking with another account who are not part of the selected audience group. See the image. The list item is not visible for this person.

SharePoint Online audience targeting on list items

By looking at the above image, I hope you understand how audience targeting works for SharePoint list items in SharePoint online.

Enabling Audience Targeting for Navigation Links in menu

For navigation links by default, The audience targeting is disabled. Let’s see how to enable it.

1. Open your SharePoint Online site, Click on the Edit button in the navigation bar.

2. Now, Turn On the Enable site navigation audience targeting feature -> Then select a particular navigation link to target, then click on the ellipsis (…) -> Click on Edit.

Audience Targeting in SharePoint Online

3. Select the particular audience by providing the “SharePoint/Security group” name in the Audience to target field-> Click on the OK button.

audience targeting for navigation links in SharePoint Online

NOTE:

you have limit for selecting audience up to 10 as shown above.

4. Click on the Save button. Like this, you can enable the audience targeting for navigation links in the menu.

audience targeting for navigation links in menu

Now, the content will be visible only to the members of the specified SharePoint group. Let’s check with users who are not part of this group.

audience targeting for navigation links in menu in SharePoint

Now, see the above image. This user is not part of the group. I selected it for audience targeting. The navigation link [ClientContact] is not showing in the navigation bar. So In this way, you can also make audience targeting for navigation links.

Audience targeting in SharePoint News web parts

Let’s check how to enable audience targeting for a SharePoint news web part step by step.

1. Click Edit on the Home Page -> Go to the News web part. Click on Edit.

How to target news in SharePoint

2. Now, Click on the Enable audience targeting feature in News.

audience targeting News web part SharePoint online

3. On the home page, Click on the Gear icon -> Click on Site contents-> right Click on Site Pages-> Click on Settings under General settings -> Click on Audience targeting setting

How to target news on SharePoint Online

4. Now select Enable audience targeting, then Click on Ok

audience targeting web parts in SharePoint

5. Return to Site Pages-> Select the news you want to target and right-click; there, you have options. Click on Manage access-> Click on Stop Sharing.

Now, again, right-click on the same news. In the options, Click on details -> Select the audience under the Audience field; see the example below.

audience targeting News web part SharePoint

Now, we targeted the news web part for the right audience, and it won’t be visible for those who are not part of the group,

SharePoint audience targeting news web part

As I said before, see, the above image news web part is not visible to these people. So follow these steps if you are looking exactly for this topic.

Quick links web part audience targeting in SharePoint

Follow the steps below to use audience targeting for quick links web part in SharePoint Online.

1. Click on Edit in Home Page -> Go to Quick Links ->Click on Edit.

SharePoint quick links audience targeting

2. Now Click Edit in the selected link. There, you select the audience in the Audience to target field.

audience targeting quick links in SharePoint

3. Finally, you can see that the Quick link was targeted to some audience in the below image.

target audience quick links SharePoint online

4. Now, I’m checking with the other people who are not in the group that I have provided for audience targeting.

audience targeting for quick links in SharePoint online

From the above image, you can see the targeted Quick link is not visible for these people. I think you’ll understand now how to provide audience targeting for the Quick Links web part in SharePoint.

SharePoint audience targeting using SharePoint groups

NOTE:

SharePoint groups are not support for Audience targeting in SharePoint Online.if you have doubts , go to library, list or any webparts in sharePoint which supports audience targeting. try to give SharePoint group name in audience targeting tab ,it definitely don’t show the SharePoint group names.

SharePoint Online audience targeting list view

Audience targeting for SharePoint list view is not possible. I tried many ways, like copying the list view into a site page, and there, I provided audience targeting. It works for the page, but it is visible to everyone when you see it in all list views. I’m sharing the link here: SharePoint audience targeting for list view. Some people are sharing their ways to solve this.

Conclusion

SharePoint audience targeting is a very important feature if you want to show or hide documents or items from a group of people. I explained how to implement audience targeting in the SharePoint document library, list, and web parts in this SharePoint tutorial.

Before implementing, create groups from Outlook or Microsoft Admin Center and use them in SharePoint.

Ensure to enable audience targeting if it is disabled for the SharePoint list or library. I believe you’ve found some useful and related content in this article.

Also, you may like some more SharePoint tutorials: